Clinton Expected To Renew China's Trade Status
By Wolf Blitzer/CNN
HOUSTON (June 2) -- Facing an imminent deadline, President Bill Clinton is expected to announce Wednesday morning that he will renew China's most-favored-nation (MFN) trade status for another year.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Joe Lockhart told reporters aboard the Air Force One flight to Houston Tuesday that Clinton may make the announcement following his morning meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Clinton and Albright are scheduled to discuss nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan before Albright leaves for a meeting of the foreign ministers of the five UN Security Council permanent members in Geneva. Clinton will then leave for Cleveland.
White House officials say Clinton has already decided to renew MFN for China despite widespread criticism on Capitol Hill of China's human rights record.
Officials say the president will make the case that the best way to
improve the human rights situation in China is to continue a policy of "constructive engagement."
Most-favored-nation trade status allows foreign goods to be sold in the U.S. with normal tariffs. The 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment governing relations with communist powers requires presidents to provide annual trade waivers for China. MFN status is enjoyed by most nations and was first granted to China in 1980.
Congress can block MFN by passing resolutions of disapproval in both the Senate and House. But the president can veto any such legislation, so Congress will need a two-thirds majority in both houses to override any veto.
Clinton is scheduled to visit China at the end of June. Travel plans include a controversial arrival ceremony at Tiananmen Square, the scene of the 1989 student uprising.
The trip also comes amid allegations that China illegally funneled
millions of dollars into the Democratic party, and that the Clinton
administration improperly approved waivers allowing U.S. satellites to be launched from Chinese missiles.